Urgent legal reform is needed to help high-risk groups leave Afghanistan

We believe an urgent intervention is needed to help groups that are at high risk of persecution by the Taliban escape Afghanistan – including human rights activists, lawyers, and academics. We also want the government to offer support and assurances to NGOs working to help their people on the ground in Afghanistan.

Chetal Patel, immigration partner, says: “There are huge numbers of people who remain at risk in Afghanistan. The Government must take swift action to help them leave safely and legally.”

“The categories of eligible people for evacuation and re-settlement needs to be expanded. The current criteria are creating problems for multi-generational Afghan families who may be financially dependent on the person who is being evacuated. These family members, who are at risk of becoming destitute, should also be considered for evacuation.”

“The Home Office needs to listen to the voices of those closest to the people on the ground in Afghanistan and take into account socio-cultural factors. Those who are eligible to be evacuated might understandably be reluctant to leave family members behind and could risk persecution by the Taliban in order to protect their families. Working proactively with organisations like the Afghanistan and Central Asian Association would prove invaluable.”

“Time is not on our side and this is a call for action for more to be done.”

Bates Wells is also calling for more government support for NGOs dealing with the crisis. Our deputy managing partner, Philip Kirkpatrick, says: “NGOs will now be switching their immediate focus from their missions to protecting their people. We are asking the Government to agree that grant funding can be used to carry out that work.”

“With regular financial systems unlikely to be available, NGOs may need to use informal arrangements for transferring funds. We ask that the government and Charity Commission provide assurance that NGOs and their staff will not be challenged over this where there is no evidence of deliberate abuse.”


This information is necessarily of a general nature and doesn’t constitute legal advice. This is not a substitute for formal legal advice, given in the context of full information under an engagement with Bates Wells.

All content on this page is correct as of August 24, 2021.